Wednesday, June 30, 2010

062. June Update; Incl. India, Afghanistan, Kenya, USA, Indonesia, Lebanon,

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 062 | Wed 30 Jun 2010

'And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' (Prayer of the Persecuted Church in Acts 4:29,30 ESV)

JUNE 2010 UPDATE -- During June we prayed concerning . . .

INDIA, where intolerant Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) continues to advance unchallenged and violence against Christians is soaring amidst a culture of impunity. Prayer is requested concerning the Maa Narmada Samajik Kumbh (Mother Narmada Social Kumbh) to be held on the banks of the Narmada River in Mandla district, Madhya Pradesh in February 2011. Millions of Hindu devotees are expected to pour into this predominantly tribal district to attend the kumbh, where they will be incited against Christians and recruited to the Hindutva cause.

* UPDATE: VIOLENCE AND INTOLERANCE IN KARNATAKA Pastors Shidu Kurialose and Nithya Vachanam of the Bethel Assembly of God Church in Chandapura were attacked by Hindutva militants on 23 June. The militants accused the pastors of 'forcible conversions' before beating them with iron rods, leaving them seriously injured and requiring hospitalisation. In Bangalore on 13 June Pastor Sam Joseph consented to go with some men and pray over their sick friend. Upon arrival, the pastor was accused of 'forcible conversions', beaten and dragged to the police station -- all in front of waiting media. He was released after agreeing to stop conducting Christian meetings. Pastor Vasanthe Kathedar of the New India Church (NIC) in Okkere, Belgaum, was conducting a home prayer meeting when he was arrested on 9 June and charged with creating communal disharmony and disrupting the peace. On 7 June, Hindu militants invaded a worship meeting run by the Jesus Prayer Team and accused Pastor Lalathamma and Kadaur Devaki (both women) of creating communal disharmony. Police arrived and arrested them under 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code for deliberate and malicious acts to outrage religious feelings.

AFGHANISTAN, where video footage of Afghans being baptised, as well as praying to and worshipping the Lord with foreign Christians, led to high-level calls for apostates to be executed in accordance with Islamic Sharia Law.

* UPDATE: AFGHAN CHRISTIANS UNDER SIEGE Sources have told Christian Solidarity Worldwide that more than 20 Afghan Christians have been detained in Afghanistan since early June. Reportedly non-Christians with ties to Westerners have also been targeted for interrogation. Afghan Christian refugees arriving in India on 8 June reported there had already been many arrests and searches as well as claiming that arrested Christians were being tortured for information on the 'underground church'. Afghan Christian refugees have also been targeted for persecution in Delhi, India. On 14 June a group of Afghan Muslim refugees deliberately rammed their car into a disabled Afghan Christian refugee named Hamidullah. Earlier in the month a young Afghan Christian refugee named Mirdad Al was attacked by a group of Indian and Afghan Muslims who abused him as a pagan and infidel. Indian police reportedly refuse to extend protection to 'illegal immigrants'.

KENYA, where the Church is finding herself in a dangerous position as she opposes the draft constitution which Kenya's most powerful forces want passed. Whilst the Church favours constitutional reform, she is unhappy with the draft constitution's softened position on abortion, its entrenchment of kahdi (Islamic) courts and 'majimbo' (ethnic federalism). Opponents of the draft constitution have been targeted with violence and 'hate speech' laws.

* UPDATE: On Sunday 27 June Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his wife Ida addressed the congregation at All Saints Cathedral, telling them they should vote 'Yes' for the constitution because the Bible tells them to. To this end PM Odinga quoted 2 Corinthians 1:18-20: 'But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No" . . . but in him it has always been "Yes" . . .' When Odinga took his seat the courageous Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala accused him of quoting the verse out of context. After correcting the PM's misinterpretation, the Archbishop urged the church to stay united. Kenya's Anglicans have committed themselves to pray daily concerning the constitution in the lead up to the 4 August constitutional referendum.

USA, where four Christians were arrested and charged with breaching the peace for witnessing to Muslims at an Arab festival. Also the Supreme Court was considering whether or not a public college could enforce an anti-discrimination policy without violating a group's First Amendment right to freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion.

* UPDATE: US SUPREME COURT WEAKENS FIRST AMENDMENT On Monday 28 June, the US Supreme Court (SC) ruled 5-4 against the Christian Legal Society (CLS), upholding the right of Hastings College to withhold registration from groups that discriminate, saying this does not violate the First Amendment. The SC ruling means that public colleges may dictate anti-discrimination policies. Thus the colleges are permitted to deny Christian groups registration and access to funding on the grounds that they are discriminatory if they insist that their voting members and leaders be Christians who practise biblical morality. The SC ruling has seriously weakened the First Amendment. A CLS claim will now be tested in a lower court that Hastings College has not enforced its policy equally but has targeted CLS because of its politically incorrect views on homosexuality.


JUNE 2010 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .

* INDONESIA: BEKASI MUSLIMS PREPARE FOR JIHAD

At the recent Bekasi (West Java) Islamic Congress (held in the Al-Azhar Mosque) all Bekasi Muslims were called on Sunday 27 June to prepare to fight Christians so as to stop the Christianisation of the city. It was proposed that there would first be 'talks' but if the talks fail 'this might mean war'. The Congress urged the Bekasi regency and municipality administrations to implement Islamic Sharia law immediately to 'limit apostasy'. (Sharia limits apostasy by making it a capital offence.) The Bekasi Islamic Presidium is planning a road-show aimed at persuading every mosque in Bekasi to form its own paramilitary unit that can be quickly mobilised if the decision is made for 'war'. Yenny Wahid of the Wahid Institute comments: 'Anarchism on behalf of religion is increasing, and the government seems to fear any group that uses Islam.'

* LEBANON: SIDON'S CHRISTIANS THREATENED

Christians in the predominantly Christian villages east of the southern port city of Sidon were shocked on Friday 18 June to find pamphlets being distributed that called on Christians to 'spare their lives by evacuating the area within one week' or 'bear the consequences'. Lebanon's Daily Star reports that the pamphlets 'were signed in the name of the Wilaya (Province) of Sidon and its surrounding areas, and included Islamist slogans'. Suspicion is focused on Ein Hilwe, a Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon that houses a significant presence of Al Qaida supporters. Incitement and sectarian violence have been traced back to Ein Hilwe in the past. On Tuesday 22 June the government deployed Lebanese Security Forces to Sidon to ensure that it 'will remain an example of Islamic-Christian coexistence'.

' . . . praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints . . . ' (Ephesians 6:18 ESV)